Politics Member States

Italy: Monti refuses to be Berlusconi’s scapegoat

10 December 2012
La Stampa Turin

The resignation of Italy's Prime Minister, announced on December 7, has caused some concern in Italy and abroad. But in the face of Silvio Berlusconi's attempt to exploit social unrest, what other path was open to a technocratic government that has made such an effort to rehabilitate the country?

Mario Monti took a day to reflect. Then he did the only thing he could do that was consistent with his character, his life and his way of governing: ensure the 2013 budget would pass, and resign.

It was not merely that he could not accept accusations from the person who had handed over to him a country in shambles. Nor did he intend to beg for weeks for the confidence of Italy's parliament in each measure he proposed.

Simply put, he had no desire to take one more step with the one who has now concluded that the fault of all the evil lies in the single currency. “I'm not going to Brussels to shield those who are making anti-European declarations. I want nothing to do with them,” Monti stated very clearly to the President of the Republic on December 8 when he announced his intention to resign.

It was a clear and transparent gesture, which obliges everyone to take responsibility, and leaves Berlusconi alone with his convulsions and his flip-flopping.

Intolerable behaviour

No one wants to discuss the right of "The Cavaliere" to run again (even if, for a year, he insisted he had no such intention), but it is intolerable that the majority shareholder in the technocratic government – which, let's remember, still includes the ex-prime minister who had left Italy on the brink – should wake up one morning and wash its hands of it.

It is intolerable that Monti is being accused of having caused all of Italy's problems, without acknowledging the work he did in just a single year. Faced with the inability to govern and the profound distrust of Italians in the party system, Monti's government was supposed to safeguard the balance-sheets of the State and to carry us over to fresh elections.

The pact was that each would share his burden of responsibility (and unpopularity) to try to avoid the bankruptcy of the country, without succumbing to the lure of populism and the temptation to profit from social unrest.

Handing back the keys to the government

So how then could the leader of the People of Freedom, Berlusconi's party, Angelino Alfano, think that Monti could carry on governing after Alfano had formally withdrawn that party's support in the National Assembly? Only a politician of the old school used to making deals and compromises on all sides would pretend it meant nothing. Monti, in contrast, took note and decided to hand back the keys to the government.

Thus, for the first time in the history of the Republic, we will be going to the polls in winter. Maybe even in the first half of February, if the budget vote passes and Parliament is dissolved before Christmas.

After trying to put things in order for the last 12 months, we have been wheeled back into the emergency room, suffering from spasms of terrible politics. With all the efforts and sacrifices we have made, we deserved better.

It is high time Italy became a normal country – predictable and, who knows, boring as well. A country that does not have to be ashamed and that can take a seat in Europe and be heard. For a year, we were nearly there.